By Azman Zakaria
SERDANG, May 17 - The designs of tables and chairs that fit with one’s physical form is important in creating comfort and convenience and to minimize the possibility of being exposed to ergonomic risks that can affect one’s health.
According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Shamsul Bahri Md Tamrin who is a lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), children, especially, should use chairs and tables that could suit with their physical form or bodily posture.
He said the use of chairs and tables that were incompatible with bodily posture for a long period of time could lead to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) or injuries that affect the human body’s movement or “musculoskeletal” system (i.e muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc) which are normally felt as one grows older.
From the results of his study conducted on 843 students at 10 primary schools in Selangor, Pahang, Johor and Perak, he found that many respondents had complained of pains in their neck, shoulder and scruff as their bodily posture did not fit with the chairs and tables as well as from the load of having to carry heavy school bags.
Also, he said, another study discovered that school bags carried by primary school children in the country, exceeded more than 15 per cent of their body weight.
“When in classroom, the bag is usually placed on the bench or chair, thus limiting the space for a kid to sit, and this also causes another inconvenience,” he said in an interview.
All these prompted him to come up with an adjustable design for the tables where the front portion can be tilted for easy reading and writing.
The table is equipped with two drawers and a lock to allow students to keep their books. This is intended to reduce the burden of students as the books can be kept in the classroom.
"In the early stage of schooling, many pupils do not keep to their timetables, and so, they will bring all the books to school, thus, the heavy load.
"But with the drawers which are lockable, they can store their books when they don’t have any homework or revision to be done,” he added.
The board used for the tables, he added, were chipboards coated with wood patterns on the surface.
He also said the prototyped chairs and tables were developed in 2009 for Year One to Year Six classes before improvements were carried out the following year.
He added the seat was equipped with an arm rest and a lumbar support to absorb back body weight. – UPM.